BLAINE, Minn. – Before Sunday afternoon’s game against the Bozeman Ice Dogs, Gavin Rasmussen (Cloquet, Minn./Minnesota Wilderness) had never put on a North Iowa Bulls sweater. The closest shade of green he’d worn on the ice belonged to the North American Hockey League’s Minnesota Wilderness, where’s already suited up 17 times this season.
The North Iowa newcomer looked like an old pro by Monday morning, though , burying two goals to help the Bulls put away the Texas Brahmas for a 4-0 win. The Bulls evened up the all-time series with the Brahmas at two wins apiece, with the teams meeting in each of the last four years. Three of those have been at the NA3HL Showcase, while last year’s meeting came in the Fraser Cup national semifinals.
“The guys have been real nice, bringing me in and we’re having a good time,” said Rasmussen. “Communication is key (in building chemistry).”
A rush up the right wing from Dalton Saltness (Forest Lake, Minn./Forest Lake H.S.) allowed North Iowa to get their first goal less than eight minutes into the contest – his initial shot was juggled out in front of the net, but Jordan Roo (Champlin, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) was able to put away the second chance to give the Bulls the initial lead.
After out-shooting the Brahmas 14-8 in the first period, North Iowa added on in the second with an 18-5 margin, and a couple more goals. A feed from Sota Isogai (Nagano, Japan/Okanagan U20) out of the corner to Bryce Runyan’s left hit Jac Triemert’s (Woodbury, Minn./Woodbury H.S.) stick right on the tape, and Triemert was able to whip in a wrist shot from the edge of the slot at the 5:31 mark.
The Bulls made it 3-0 with 7:26 left in the period, with Rasmussen batting in a bouncing rebound for his first NA3HL goal. He also got the initial shot off as well, rushing into the zone after picking up a loose puck in front of the penalty boxes.
Rasmussen didn’t wait long after the break to make it a 4-0 contest – just 2:47 out of the intermission, his dangling weave down the length of the slot allowed him to pop the puck into the upper corner to finish the scoring for the game.
Evan Babekuhl (Long Lake, Minn./Orono H.S.) was masterful in net, making 26 saves to earn his second shutout and seventh win of the season, matching his win total from the entire 2018-19 campaign. Runyan was saddled with the loss after making 45 saves, ending a run of nine straight wins.
While North Iowa’s winning streak at the Showcase reached nine games, another lengthy streak came to an end. The Bulls finished 0-for-3 on the power play, ending a run of 11 straight games with a goal on the man-advantage. The Brahmas finished 0-for-5 on the power play.
The Bulls cap the pre-Christmas portion of the schedule on Tuesday afternoon with a 12:15 p.m. matchup against the Elmira Jr. Soaring Eagles out of the NA3HL’s Northeast Division. The first game out of the break on December 28 will also be North Iowa’s first game at the new Mason City Arena at Southbridge Mall in Mason City. Live streaming coverage of Tuesday’s game is available exclusively on HockeyTV.
Updated news and information on North Iowa Bulls hockey are always available at www.northiowabulls.com, and by following the team on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. To purchase advance tickets to upcoming Bulls home games, call 641-423-4625 or click here.
Texas Brahmas 0 0 0 – 0
North Iowa 1 2 1 – 4
1st Period-1, North Iowa, Roo 14 (Saltness), 7:57. Penalties-Hempel Nio (slashing-minor), 3:00; Trelstad Tex (roughing-minor), 8:39; Dahlseide Nio (slashing-minor), 14:59; Wyatt-Manning Tex (slashing-minor), 17:44.
2nd Period-2, North Iowa, Triemert 5 (Isogai), 5:31. 3, North Iowa, Rasmussen 1 12:34. Penalties-Selanne Tex (head contact-minor), 6:16; Saltness Nio (tripping-minor), 19:54.
3rd Period-4, North Iowa, Rasmussen 2 (Roitman), 2:47. Penalties-Triemert Nio (hooking-minor), 14:26; Eha Nio (roughing-minor), 18:29.
Shots on Goal-Texas Brahmas 8-5-13-26. North Iowa 14-18-17-49.
Power Play Opportunities-Texas Brahmas 0 / 5; North Iowa 0 / 3.
Goalies-Texas Brahmas, Runyan 11-2-0-0 (49 shots-45 saves). North Iowa, Babekuhl 7-1-0-0 (26 shots-26 saves).
Linesmen-Jared Cummins, Stone Sheehan.